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Data Policy and Principles

Recognizing the crucial role of open and effective data and information exchange to the Belmont Challenge, the Belmont Forum adopted open Data Policy and Principles based on the recommendations from the Community Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) at its 2015 annual meeting of Principals in Oslo, Norway. The policy signals a commitment by funders of global environmental change research to increase access to scientific data, a step widely recognized as essential to making informed decisions in the face of rapid changes affecting the Earth’s environment.

Belmont Forum Data Policy and Principles

The Belmont Forum adopts this data policy and the following principles to widen access to data and promote its long-term preservation in global change research; help improve data management and exploitation; coordinate and integrate disparate organizational and technical elements; fill critical global e-infrastructure gaps; share best practices; and foster new data literacy.

The Belmont Forum recognizes that significant advances in open access to data have been achieved and implementation of this policy and these principles requires support by a highly skilled workforce. The Belmont Forum recommends a broad-based training and education curriculum as an integral part of research programs and encourages researchers to be aware of, and plan for, the costs of data intensive research. The Belmont Forum’s ambition is that this policy and these principles will take positive steps toward establishing a global, interoperable e-infrastructure based on cost-effective solutions that can help enable actionable and societally beneficial science.

Data should be:

  • Discoverable through catalogues and search engines
  • Accessible as open data by default, and made available with minimum time delay
  • Understandable in a way that allows researchers—including those outside the discipline of origin—to use them
  • Manageable and protected from loss for future use in sustainable, trustworthy repositories

The Belmont Forum and its members will support and promote this data policy and principles with the intent of making these data principles enforceable over time.

“This policy of openness paves the way for science and funding agencies collaborating internationally to reinforce the excellence and integrity of science,” said Kurt Vandenberghe, then co-chair of the Belmont Forum. “It will facilitate innovation through taking advantage of research data and results and, most of all, it will enhance global scientific collaboration and science diplomacy as essential conditions for developing more sustainable societies.”

Additional Detail

The Policy and Principles closely follow the data principles promoted in the CSIP:

Research data must be:

  1. Discoverable through catalogues and search engines, with data access and use conditions, including licenses, clearly indicated. Data should have appropriate persistent, unique and resolvable identifiers.
  2. Accessible by default, and made available with minimum time delay, except where international and national policies or legislation preclude the sharing of data as Open Data. Data sources should always be cited.
  3. Understandable and interoperable in a way that allows researchers, including those outside the discipline of origin, to use them. Preference should be given to non-proprietary international and community standards via data e-infrastructures that facilitate access, use and interpretation of data. Data must also be reusable and thus require proper contextual information and metadata, including provenance, quality and uncertainty indicators. Provision should be made for multiple languages.
  4. Manageable and protected from loss for future use in sustainable, trustworthy repositories with data management policies and plans for all data at the project and institutional levels. Metrics should be exploited to facilitate the ability to measure return on investment, and can be used to implement incentive schemes for researchers, as well as provide measures of data quality.
  5. Supported by a highly skilled workforce and a broad-based training and education curriculum as an integral part of research programs.

For additional details or to get involved, please contact the Coordination Office.